The Ambassador of Kenya in Spain on the development in Kenya

Since the independence from Great Britain in 1963, Kenya has been a country of great change. I got the honour of meeting the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic Kenya in Spain, Mr. Bramwel Waliaula Kisuya, to discuss the current situation in Kenya and his opinion about the future of the country.

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The Ambassador of Kenya in Spain, Mr. Bramwel Waliaula Kisuya

Mr. Kisuya, 57, was appointed to be the Ambassador and Head of Mission at the Kenyan Embassy of Spain in 2010. Prior to this appointment, he served as a Commissioner with the Poverty Eradication Commission of Kenya and provided consultancy services to development agencies in Kenya, Ethiopia and Lesotho. His previous work within different enterprises, has given him great experience working with various affairs at a multinational level. “I have gotten a great deal of insight about international relation, which has been useful for my work here at the embassy”, Mr Kisuya says. His work at the embassy consists of various engagements, like for example with officials of Government entities, other Embassies or connecting Spanish corporations with Kenya’s corporations.

His position as the ambassador of the Kenyan embassy demands a lot of work. Mr. Kisuya is usually up by 5 am in the morning. “With my background in the consultancy services, I’ve been used to working late and waking up early”, he says. He explains that if you work in the consultancy services, you have to deliver and fulfil the expectations of the clients whenever they require it. This implies that you are not necessarily working at the most convenient hours. However, in spite of a busy schedule, the ambassador likes to make time for a daily workout session. This physical exercise gives him energy to face the assignments and challenges he encounters at the embassy.

It has been 53 years since Kenya became independent from Great Britain, which makes it one of the oldest democracies in the African context. Consequently, Kenya enjoys a lot of respect from other neighbouring countries and also Africa in general according to the ambassador. Its strong political performance, has given the country an influential role in the African Union. “Their views are often representative for other countries in East Africa, and for that reason their opinion matters”, he says.

However, Kenya does not only have an influential position in Africa. Kenyan troops have participated in numerous UN peacekeeping missions abroad. They also participated in the UN mission in Kosovo in the 90s, which proves that Kenya’s concern goes outside the African continent as well. Today, Kenya is a key contributor in peacekeeping missions in its neighbouring countries like Somalia and South Sudan. Until recently Somalia was fragile, and the unstable situation especially affected the security and economy of Kenya. The Ambassador points out that the direct impact on Kenya was an important cause for the government to intervene, but their position and expectation as a contributor in peacekeeping missions is perhaps even more essential.

The economy of Kenya has been one of the most promising economies for the last decade. “Kenya is among the top four countries in overall political and economical performance”, the ambassador says. Currently, the country has an average of 5,6% GDP growth, and the ambassador like to see that the economy in Kenya continues to grow. When I asked him what the reason could be for this economical growth, he answered that one of the main reasons was the country’s infrastructure. Kenya has a well-developed infrastructure both physically and socially, which is a key attraction for foreign investors. For that reason, Kenya also plays a vital role as a transportation hub for much of sub-Saharan Africa and is often considered the “gateway” to East Africa.

In 2008 Kenya launched its vision that it will be one of the leading countries, both economically and politically, before 2030. This vision aims to transform Kenya into a well industrialized, middle-income country, and comprises of three key pillars: social, economic and politic. “The vision is a initiative to move Kenya towards the expectations of the population in terms of uplifting their level of standards”, the Ambassador explained. He is looking at the vision as a manageable objective and is already seeing the enhancing impacts from the government´s first actions to achieve the vision.

Finally, I asked the Ambassador how he imagined Kenya in the future. “I like to see a competitive Kenya that continues to grow and develop. A Kenya where the people can enjoy a mid-level income”, he answered. He also highlighted his wishes to see the country achieve its goals before 2030. After talking to Mr. Kisuya, I have gotten a new perspective of Kenya. Kenya is definitely an upcoming country and I hope to see it fulfil its potential in the future.


By Elise Skjelland

How to be involved in the world – A testimony of Jonathan Pedneault

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Jonathan Pedneault, researcher at Human Right Watch

The world in which we evolve today is complex and governed by numerous actors. One of them is the Non-Governmental Organizations, which play a significant role in national and international issues.

Jonathan Pedneault is a researcher, specialized in the Africa division, in one of those non-profit organizations : Human Rights Watch. He is a self-taught man with a passion for Human Rights, fighting especially with the use of journalism and reporting for the resolution of conflicts, having gained experience in crisis environments and war zones after eight years of work. Moreover, this capacity to find innovative solutions to adapt to all quandaries enables him to work with different organizations.

Indeed, since January 2016, he has investigated international human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by the government and rebel forces in South Sudan. Before, he worked as a consulting researcher for Amnesty International in the Central African Republic, where he reported on the protection of civilians and sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers. He thinks that both organizations have strengths and weaknesses and are complementary in many ways. While Amnesty reaches a larger audience, Human Right Watch reaches a more influential crowd with hard-hitting research products coming directly from the source itself.

These commitments in South Sudan and Central African Republic have changed his perception of life in so many ways that he told me I would need to write books about it. For him, each experience builds one upon the other may have made him more cynical and bitter, but they have also made him understand the common problems we face – abuse, inequality, intolerance – in a more realistic light. Indeed, while working for Non-Governmental Organizations and thinking they have a positive impact, J. Pedneault also gives a critical point of view about it. Actually, he said that “NGOs are far from flawless and may at times cause more harm than good. That said, they are part of a body of actors that keep power – whether political, economic or social – in check. I don’t think that there is a need to grant them with more power, but there is a need to grant them the space needed to grow and try and influence society or sectors of society, in competition with other actors”.

First of all, he coproduced a documentary for CBC/Radio-Canada which is “Refuge: a film about Darfur” and which was released in 2008. Then, from 2010 to 2012, he co-directed another documentary called “The New Great Game”. This one was shot in Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Egypt and Asia and focused on the multi-polarization of the Middle East’s maritime geopolitics. Moreover, in 2013 and 2014, he trained South Sudanese and Central African radio reporters to conflict-sensitive journalism. Actually, he sees journalism as a “school of life”. He is deeply involved in documentaries which allow the filmmaker to really delve into a story and communicate complex realities in a compelling manner. He hopes that it can bring to the audience an higher understanding of the world they live in. Concerning his expectations, he said that “my hope was to provoke curiosity, and bring people to take informed decisions about their lives and how they affect those of others”.

He holds that “Human Rights continue to be blatantly violated in countless countries. That requires change and one may not and should not try to effect change without accessing and consuming reliable and factual information”. Furthermore, he argues that Africa has a weight in the international community. However, many do not quite realize it yet because it is trapped in too many internal conflicts. Therefore, working in Central African Republic is different from working in South Sudan or Somalia or Libya. But this type of work requires an adaptation to our surroundings. He said that “It’s each time quite different and I reckon that this is what keeps me going.”

Eventually, he said “I have seen both life and death in a way that makes me sad I’m alive and happy I’m not dead”. Nowadays, he highlitghs that the “Real change” is everyone’s business. Not just governments. The place where we are now, with a rise in populist discourses throughout the planet, shows that we have much more work to do. Indeed, nowadays our world is in the midst of turbulent times. If we want a majority of us to escape unscathed, we have to get down to work. All of us.

By Chlöé Raguin

Is there enough money going for girls’ education in Sub-Saharan Africa?

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A classroom in Oxfam’s girls’ education project

Sub-Saharan Africa is a region composed of a lot of developing countries, which want to increase their impact on the international society. However, the level of education is a matter of concern in this region. Indeed, the lack of education especially has a damaging impact on girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is why a bigger percentage of the income from charity should be earmarked for girls’ education.

First of all, education should be a higher priority in the Sub-Saharan Africa due to its damaging consequences. According to a newly released report by a British charity named “Child Soldiers International”, girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo tend to join armed groups because of the lack of opportunities to go to school. Due to the fact that their family cannot afford to pay their school fees, these girls “see joining an armed group as their only option, and decide to throw themselves in harm’s way”. This example is just one of many horrendous consequences of the absence of education in Sub-Saharan Africa. If a bigger percentage of foreign aid was given to increase education opportunities, we might prevent girls from taking these desperate actions.

However, today education for all is a part of several founding programs created by governments or NGO’s nowadays. Sub-Saharan Africa is their biggest objective, as 28 million girls between the ages of 6 and 15 are not in school and many will never even set foot in a classroom. Thereby, this region, where the inequalities are huge, needs assistance to achieve its demographic transition. Researchers have found many reasons why education should be focused on girls because of the several good impacts it could imply. By making girl education a priority, the percentage of early weddings could diminished of 15% and the most important thing is that education keeps hunger away by leading to work and so better living conditions. Indeed, if all mothers had a secondary education, 12.2 millions children could be saved from stunting.

Moreover, foreign aids have helped a lot in many parts of Africa to improve this issues in the past decade. Yet, in different countries, this foreign aid continues to contribute to a large part of the budget of the government. But this foreign aid do not always go to the sectors where they were appointed.

Lastly, the importance of education has been proven by the South African government. South Africa has actually one of the highest rates of public investment in education in the world. At about 7% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 20% of total state expenditure, the government spends more on education than on any other sector. In 2013, the South African government spent 21% of the national budget on education. So, 41.7% of the total population has completed an education of high school or higher, whereas 8.6% of the population aged 20 years and older has not completed any schooling. Today, South Africa stands out as one of the most developed and important countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their educational policy reflects a positive image and influence on the whole region.

Thus, the education is one of the most important assets for the development of one country and especially the girl education really can make the difference in the future. As we said, the consequences of the lack of concern to this issue are damaging with for example the increased number of girls who join an armed group. Indeed, governments and different programs such as NGOs take this stake as a real matter of concern and act in order to improve the level of education and decrease inequalities. The educational policy in South Africa shows that the States in this region are not one step behind and have a power somehow of improving theirs educational systems.

 

South Africa starts process to pull out of the International Criminal Court

Bias against Africa is causing South Africa to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

South African President Jacob Zuma waits for a photo opp., at the 25th African Union Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, on June 14, 2015. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir joined a group photograph of leaders at the African Union summit in Johannesburg on Sunday despite the International Criminal Court calling for him to be arrested at the event. (MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The South African President Jacob Zuma. Source: TheGlobeAndMail

Last friday, South Africa announced that it will withdraw from the International Criminal Court, which is ICC. This withdrawal is a confirmation and is explained by the unfair targeting of African leaders according to South African government.

The ICC  is based on the Roman Statute, which is a treaty between 124 states all around the globe and was created in 2002 in order to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity. Currently, nine out of ten investigations led by the ICC are located on the African continent. In addition, all previous convicted people are African, although people from other continents have been investigated as well. Based on these observations, The African Union (UA) earlier denounced the priority of the court, qualifying it as “a racial hunt” against African leaders.

South Africa first announced their plans to leave the court after criticism of their ignorance to arrest the President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan last year. The South African government let the President of Sudan leave the country after a visit, in spite of the ICC demands to not let the president departure. The Sudanese President was then charged with crimes against humanity and the ICC had a global warrant for his arrest. According to the laws of the Roman Statue, the South African government should have surrendered the president to the court located in The Hague, Netherlands.

The announcement makes South Africa the second African country to announce their wishes to withdraw from the ICC this year. The statement of the government came three days after the Burundi president formally signed the decree, making Burundi the first state to officially start the withdrawal process from the International Criminal Court. Some say this action is a result of the ICC opening an investigation of human right abuses related to the Burundi election last year. However, the withdrawal of South Africa is a bigger concern to the International society and the ICC. South Africa is considered one of the most influential countries in Africa, and experts now fair a “mass-withdrawal” of the African countries.

The withdrawal of the ICC, absolves South Africa from its obligations to the court. However, the government announces that the country ”remains committed to the fight against impunity and to hold those who have committed crimes against humanity and other serious crimes accountable”. The main opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance, have harshly criticized the government’s decision to withdraw from the ICC. They have expressed that ”the withdrawal is in breach…of the Constitution”, and that the decision undermines the reputation of South Africa as a defender of human rights.

 

EU is preparing sanctions against DRC due to postponed election

Increased violence related to the postponed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo makes the western world react.

Last Monday, foreign ministers from the EU decided to prepare economic sanctions against the Democratic Republic of Congo unless the government holds its presidential election this year. The European Union justifies the sanctions with the current political situation and the extreme violence it has caused. According ministers from the European Union, the sanctions will primarily affect the people from president Joseph Kabila’s inner circle.

Joseph Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006 and was re-elected in 2011. In 2006, a new constitutional provision limited the presidency to a two-term limit, which means that Kabila’s presidency expires in 2016. He was due to step down as president in December, but authorities have decided to push back the election to April 2018. This means Kabila is running into his third term as president. According supporters of Kabila, logistical and financial constraints make it impossible to hold the intended polls in November. However, opponents claim the reason is to remain head of state.

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Anti-Kabila demonstation. DRCONGO 2016. Source: TheEastAfrican

 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the struggle for power has been causing violent clashes and cruel acts for decades. Congo has always been a coveted land because if its immense economic resources. Currently, Eastern regions of the DRC are still at the mercy of about 50 armed groups that prevent from stability in the country. During the last couple of years, the country has become more stable due to multiple interventions by the UN.

However, the postponed election has threatened the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The announcement of the delayed election resulted in violent clashes between supporters and opponents of President Joseph Kabila. At least 50 people got killed in the capital Kinshasa last Monday, when the electoral authorities announced that the election would be delayed. Congo has never experienced a peaceful transfer of power since its independence in 1960.

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Clashes in Kinshasa. DRCONGO 2016. Source: SimplyLuculent


A recently published UN report
highlights the need to protect political and civil rights ahead of key elections in DRC. The report focuses on the worrying clampdown on opposition, media and the civil population since the beginning of the year. It stresses the urgent need to guarantee political and civil rights in the country. In total, this report documents approximately 140 human rights violations linked to the electoral process. According to the UN, at least 649 people were arbitrarily arrested and detained in connection with the electoral process during the first nine months of the year. Threats, arbitrary arrests and detention have been targeting media workers, political opponents and civilians within the Congolese borders.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has made a statement in conjunction with the report saying; “I urge the Congolese authorities to ensure accountability for the very serious human rights violations documented in this report”.